Water of Life – Visions in Style
What makes a great whisky tasting?
I have been lucky to attend a wide range of whisky tastings on this earthround. Some were held at the source, i.e. distilleries, others in bars and recently quite a few virtually. There are many factors that contribute to a great tasting event – factors that make the whole experience far more than the mere sum part of its individual components and ones that go far beyond having great whiskies on offer.
Enter Vision in Style.
Breaking the mould of both the traditional tasting procedure both in terms of having an assembly of brand ambassadors try to cater to thirsty punters drunkenly waving their Glencairns at them as well as the standard teacher-pupil set-up with attendants being lectured to, Visions in Style’s approach is informed by its mastermind Michael Cartwright’s creative flair, can-do attitude and innate ability to resolve situations in an innovative manner.
Visions in Style’s Hidden Whisk(e)y Degustation was an example par excellence how a well-planned event can get the audience involved, which is no mean feat in times where the implications of the current malaise make any public outing a logistical nightmare and event management has changed dramatically.
Initially planned to incarnate in the unique environment that is the tunnel venue “Coal Loader”, groups were meant to be guided through themed underground rooms, where whiskies were to be poured in a curated manner. As all events at the initial locale were cancelled for 2020, an alternative venue had to be sourced at short notice, changes had to be dealt with and Vision in Style’s ability to adapt and think outside the box had them look at the problem as a positive challenge as they reimagined the event at the formidable Doncaster Room at Randwick’s Racecourse.
With a passion for whisk(e)y, a keen eye for detail and a talent for delving into things, the event ran expertly choreographed and literally like clockwork as time management was key to get through the fifteen themed, interactive tasting stations.
A highlight of the event, which was comprised of twelve Australian distillers and complemented by a large array of world-renowned distilleries and accompanied by knowledgeable ambassadors, included Pete Stevens holding court, who with his trademark charisma eased us into the proceedings by proffering an excellent new Overeem expression, which with the sizable dram he poured was easy to enjoy, following his credo that “the first sip is not your first sip”.
Another personal highlight was finally meeting the man behind Craft Works Distillery in the flesh and the chance to sample his much fabled about emissions. Founder and renaissance man Craig does not go by the nickname “Crafty” for nothing as the man oozes with passion and enthusiasm for craft artisan spirits, and what I was able to sample warrants a dedicated feature as part of this series.
Sustained by a substantial, curated degustation menu, which was served throughout the event, our tasting journey culminated with Archie Rose Distillery’s station, where I finally got to sample their recently released (and immediately sold out) Single Malt Whisky.
Guided by the never not charming Daniel-Hutchins Read, the drop definitely lived up to the hype as the melange of the six-malt mash bill aged in apera casks and refined in AR’s own air-dried ex-rye casks, materialized on the roof of the mouth as one of the more charismatic expressions of the evening in terms of flavour as the claviature of both savoury and raisiny, dark chocolatey nuances revealed a near perfectly calibrated profile.
Summa summarum, Vision in Style’s whisk(e)y tasting proved to be an enjoyable experience in every sense of the word for both the illuminated whisk(e)y as well as the uninitiated and I cannot wait to see what they have planned for their future events.
photos by @k.a.vv